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Farthing Collection

penny farthing collection

Knutsford boasts its own collection of antique cycles which are housed in the Penny Farthing Museum at the Courtyard Coffee House.
THE KNUTSFORD GREAT RACE
knutsford great race

The Knutsford Great Race is a unique event which takes place in Knutsford once every decade and was inaugurated by the Cheshire Wheel Men in 1980. The event is a three hour long race with competitors on antique bicycles, Penny Farthings, riding solo and in relay teams.

david soul starting the knutsford great race
The third event of this kind took place on the Moor in Knutsford on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the 24th of September 2000. Actor David Soul of Starsky & Hutch fame, standing in for local MP Martin Bell started the Great Race at 2pm by firing a Blunderbuss, an antique gun in keeping with the historic feel of the days events. The proceedings ran from 1pm, when competitors began their warm up, until 5.15pm when town mayor Jennifer Holbrook presided over the giving out of prizes at the awards ceremony.

The full programme of events included two heats for the 'Boneshaker World Championship Dash' followed by the 'Boneshaker Final'. Only iron shod, wooden wheeled bikes made between 1869 and 1971 were allowed to take part in this race.
penny farthings

Farthing Facts  

The Penny Farthing is referred to by purists as the 'High' or 'Ordinary' bicycle, and the first of its kind was invented in 1871 by James Starley.
 
The Penny Farthing superceded the 'Hobbyhorse', and the 'Velocipede' or 'Boneshaker' as the first really efficient bicycle, consisting of a small rear wheel and large front wheel pivoting on a simple spine like tubular frame with tyres of rubber.
 
Large distances at high speed could be covered in relevant comfort. They were not totally safe however, and practice was required to mount, ride and dismount.
 
The driving wheels varied in size up to 60" in diameter. The buyer would choose the size in relation to his/her own height, so for example, a man of 5' 10" would normally ride a 54" wheel.  Very tall men used the largest wheels.

The Penny Farthing was king of the road for over 20 years before the 'Safety Bicycle' came along.

On your marks...
david soul in knutsford
get set...
david soul in knutsford

Penny Farthing Enthusiasts The main event of the day, the Great Race itself, came next.

This three hour test of skill for experienced Penny Farthing riders was only open to high wheel models.

This year's race attracted 76 entrants, - 16 solo riders and 14 four member relay teams. The two types of competitors faced different problems - solo riders had to pace themselves over the three hour period, while teams had to ensure that no time was lost when changing riders.

Knutsford Great Race WinnerPenny Farthing competitors
Among those taking part in the races this year were 9 year old Samantha Malseed from Colchester riding a Boneshaker, women's world champion Nicky Armstrong from Australia, who won the Great Race of the day riding solo, and Glynn Stockdale of the Cheshire Wheel Men, who took part in both events. Other attractions throughout the afternoon included hot air balloon flights and a show of vintage cars, and money raised by the event on this occasion, totalling more than 6,000, went to the charity The Children's Society.
Onlookers to the Knutsford Great Race
It was available in a wide range of finishes and specifications and was popular with the wealthy until the motor car took over.